“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.“
–1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV)
This passage is actually titled, “The Need for Self-Discipline,” in the New International Version. Paul emphasizes this necessity, as it affects every area of our life. Isn’t it interesting, though, that he chooses to explain this through the physical discipline of our bodies? We “strike a blow” to our bodies and beat our bodies into submission. Wow! It seems if we can conquer self-discipline and motivation through physical exercise and self-control in our eating habits, we gain power over our flesh. Our body actually becomes slave to God’s will. That’s pretty profound.
Perhaps this carries over to other spiritual disciplines. Once our body is physically in submission, we will seek the greater spiritual things, rather than becoming lazy, or always seeking to gratify the desires of the flesh.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.“ -Galatians 5:16 NIV
So, I challenge you: Git ‘er Done. Just do it. Whatever it is that God has been whispering in your ear… that thing you’ve had on your “to-do list” for six months… that task you’ve been putting off, resting on the back-burner, and planning to get to “someday…” make that day today. Choose to run the day, rather than letting the day run you. Make your least desirable endeavor your first priority. Get it done, and then you’re freed up! It won’t be hanging over your head anymore. You will feel a sense of peace, accomplishment, and freedom over your day once you’re done.
One way to train your flesh could include signing up for that gym membership… and bringing your gear with you so that you Git ‘er Done and build self-discipline starting on day one! Don’t be the person who signs up online and then never sets foot in the gym. Be intentional. Set yourself up for success.
Maybe for you it’s meal planning. Perhaps it’s making a grocery list, and not going to the grocery store hungry. Maybe it’s cleaning out your fridge and cupboards of all unhealthy temptations. Some people may even go as far as avoiding late-night T.V., so they are not tempted by the commercials.
Try attending social events with a full belly, a cup of water in your hand, and bringing a healthy dish to share. This also helps spread the joy of tasty, nutritious options with those in your circle of influence. Shift the atmoshphere where you go, rather than letting an unhealthy climate change you. Good health is a gift to be shared!
Carry a water bottle with you to ensure you are adequately hydrated. Set good sleep habits and go to bed earlier tonight. Pack your gym bag and set out your workout clothes the night before. Plan your workout and start building excitement in your mind as you picture a healthier version of yourself!
Building discipline could include learning different methods of cooking, preparing healthy recipes, or avoiding/limiting eating out. Set reasonable boundaries for yourself. Avoid people and places that lead you away from your goal until you are strong enough to maintain self-discipline in the face of other people’s choices. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find someone to partner with you on this health journey so you can motivate and encourage one another. Pray for each other, and for God’s strength. Ask Him for self-control, as it is a fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.“ -Galatians 5:22-24
Then, give yourself grace. Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back. We are still human and live in a fallen world. We will not achieve perfection this side of Heaven. So if you do not surpass your goal as quickly as you hope, that’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself, setting sky-high expectations in a short time-frame, or you may end up giving up and giving in. The process to health is not easy, or everyone would be healthy! It takes time to develop new habits. Celebrate the small victories.
Most importantly, be vigilant. You have an enemy of your soul who does not want you to succeed. He doesn’t want you to be healthy, because then you are a threat to him. You are more powerful for God’s Kingdom. Use this knowledge to your advantage. When you are debating whether or not to Git ‘er Done, remember who your real enemy is. Satan will whisper lies like, “it’s too hard.” “It’s okay, you had a long day, you don’t have to.” “You deserve that 750 calorie-bomb frappuccino.” “You don’t want to be a slave, do you? You should enjoy life and eat what you want!” Well friends, wake up! Do you want to let the enemy win? Do you want to face God on resurrection day and say “it was just too much work?” Or do you want to put on your armor and fight the enemy’s tricks with scripture, prayer, self-discipline and self-control?! Every decision you make is either moving you closer to your goal or further away from it. Pause before you grab that bag of chips. Pray before you blow off going for a run. Ask God if you are partnering with His will, or with a lie from the enemy… And then let’s go Git ‘er Done!
We can do this. We are stronger together. I believe in you.
Here’s to your health!